((Essay from: "Art In King Size Beds: A Collector's Journal."))
I have a disease. It's not really a physical or mental ailment. I call it, "THE ART COLLECTING BUG."
It's the same sickness that collectors of comic books, snow globes and antique cars have, but only a different strain. I know how and where I got it, but I don't know how to treat it.
Did I catch it as a public school kid during field trips at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim in New York? Field trips in New York City are heaven for a kid. The city is your oyster. Anyway, we would often visit museums. I loved looking at all of the masterpieces. Very inspirational. I suppose I fell in love with art in the second grade. That was many years ago. I didn't feel sick back then and surely the disease went into remission. As I got older, somehow I lost touch with the power that art can have in one's life. In college, I took a couple of art history classes and later on, I served on the board of directors of an art appreciation group at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Still, I never thought that this collecting ailment would hit me. However, Virginia is loaded with flea markets and shops that sell old paintings that have lost their way to greatness. I remember buying a couple of those, which I still have. Did the disease hit then?
Maybe. I think that I really contracted, "THE ART COLLECTING BUG" when I accidentally logged onto an art website. I couldn't believe it! Art that I could actually afford? You must be kidding me!
Yup. There it was. Clear as day. My first real painting by a real artist. Not one of those, "Velvet Elvis" creations (Velvet Elvis has his place, but my home isn't called "Graceland"). As I recall, it was a blue, red and yellow abstract piece. 16" by 20," oil on canvas. Looking at it now, I don't know what the heck I was thinking! I think that I was in love with the price more than the actual painting. Anyway, that MUST BE when I truly caught the bug. Funny, because looking at the painting now, I feel nauseous all over again. Fortunately, my taste has improved.
Now, years later, my home is a living art gallery. I own about 200 original works of art from artists all over the world. I've acquired many of my paintings directly from the artists and now count some of them as friends. I'm honored to own their work. Now, I visit galleries and talk with artists on a regular basis.
There are so many talented artists out there who are struggling, although I prefer to say “striving.” It sounds more hopeful. They paint, sculpt or take photographs because they feel it's what they were born to do. Many of them aren't represented by galleries and all they want to do is make a decent living by selling their work. They create beautiful, expressive pieces that are worthy of being displayed in some of the finest art institutions.
I guess I'm holding onto that first mediocre painting on the chance that the artist will make it big one day. I doubt that will happen, but if I get rid of the painting and the artist becomes famous, guess what?
I'll really be sick.